I wanted to find him.
Every day, I’d rush through my homework, gobble up left-over stuffing and head to the woods in my backyard.
Then I’d be incredibly quiet.
I was hunting. I didn’t have a gun. I was one of those kids who read Charlotte’s Web and became a vegetarian because well, how could you eat Wilbur? My vegetarianism was strict, and I knew when my mom tried to pass off Ragu’s meat sauce as the green pepper and onion variety.
“You need protein!” She’d throw up her hands in disgust. “Protein!”
I scoffed at protein. I was Super Carrie, Vegetarian Girl. No mere mortal, was I. I ate no meat, propelled by 10-year-old righteous indignation, moral outrage, and a love for all pigs and cows and various other barnyard animals, like my Uncle Kilton.
My vegetarianism was only lifted for my daily nibble of Stove Top Stuffing. You know the slogan, It’s better than potatoes. It was. It was! Sure, it had chicken flavoring in it, but I reasoned that the chicken flavoring couldn’t possibly come from real chickens.
Fortified by stuffing, I’d head to the woods, trying to walk with quiet, rolling my feet inwards as I stepped in a straight line like a fox. The wind whipped my hair. The maple leaves fell down. The cars on the highway zipped by. I ignored them all. I was on a quest.
I was hunting Big Foot.
Yes, Big Foot, the man-beast of the Washington woods, solitary hirsute Sasquatch. I, Carrie Barnard, would find him in my backyard in Bedford, N.H. I would find him and … and … and…
Then what? I wondered.
Then, we would be friends.
Coming back from Pioneer Girls at the Calvary Baptist Church with Katie Henderson and her mom one Friday night, we turned into my driveway, just as something big and covered with fur slipped into the woods by the garage.
“Did you see that?” I whispered to Katie.
“What?” She sat upright, pigtails whipping her face. “Was it Jesus?”
Katie always hoped to spot Jesus. She wanted the second coming to come already. She was tired of homework and was positive there was no homework in Heaven.
I wasn’t that optimistic. If Jesus did come down would it get me out of my book report on Witch of Blackbird Pond? God would probably make me do that book report, and a character study for added fun.
“No,” I hissed. “It wasn’t Jesus. I think I saw Big Foot.”
Katie rolled her eyes, and scratched at her hand. “Yeah, right.”
“No. Really. He jumped in the woods.”
Mrs. Henderson parked.
“Yeah, you saw Big Foot. Just like you saw that U.F.O,” Katie snickered.
Pow! She struck low, Katie did.
I shuddered and thought, Oh, not the U.F.O. mention!
One tiny mistake and I was forever known as the Girl Who Thinks Airplanes With Light Up Banners Advertising Radio Stations Are U.F.O.’s.
“This wasn’t an airplane,” I said, opening the station wagon door.
“It was probably your stepfather,” Katie said.
“He’s not that hairy.”
Mrs. Henderson rolled down her window and I thanked her for the ride.
“Remember to pray tonight, and that’s all the thanks I need,” she said.
She tooted the horn. I steamed. How dare that woman? She was scaring my Big Foot.
I will prove them Wrong!
Determined to prove Katie wrong, I searched daily. I prowled secret short-cuts, climbed trees for better views, searched for tracks. I’d creep, hoping to sneak up on him. I’d sprint, leaping over dead falls, slopping through muck, hoping to startle him out. Mud slopped on the bottom of my corduroys. Water seeped into my Adidas sneakers.
Far ahead of me in the murky forest, trees beckoned, taunting me. The teasing fee-bee-bee-bee of the Eastern Phoebe broke the air. Then …a snuffling noise, a lower growl. Something primal rumbled in front of me. It was not the noise of a hoppity rabbit, or a sweet deer who’d lost his mother.
It was not the noise of a Disney movie.
Another growl broke the air and I did what every fearless explorer does when faced with the possible object of pursuit. I ran.
I will forever regret this decision.
I was so close to potentially seeing Big Foot or at least a black bear, but what did I do? I ran away. And I think I’ve (cough) done this with multiple things in my life.
Sometimes we run away from success and there’s a reason why that is. Success means change. Failure means more of the same. Change is the unknown. It is the growl in the woods. It can be scary not knowing what will happen in our lives.
When we succeed we influence more people. There’s a responsibility that goes along with that.
When we succeed there are new pressures to deal with. Some are societal. Some might be financial. Some might just be how our personalities shift to deal with this new situation. That can be scary.
But the thing is? If Big Foot is out there, we have to step forward to meet her/him.
WRITING AND OTHER NEWS
IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!
My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON
On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.
WHAT IS PATREON?
A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you.
HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED
Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!
BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!
Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!
No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?
Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.
I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here.
You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.
People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.
The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?
It’s awesome and quirky and fun.
FLYING AND ENHANCED
Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?